Postal Service Under Fire
by Creator's Syndicate, Inc.
The U.S. Postal Service is a huge and beleaguered
organization. It's the nation's second largest employer next to the
military. In retail sales, the Postal Service ranks 11th among United
States corporations, public and private. Last year, 171 billion pieces
of mail moved through the sys- tem. That's expected to rise by 3
percent this year.
But how well is the Postal Service performing that enormous
job? That depends on whom you ask. An Associated Press poll found that
63 percent of Americans believe the Postal Service is doing a "good"
or "excellent" job. But direct mail advertisers are not so satisfied.
They spend billions of dollars every year on third-class mailings
(bulk advertising), and when that mail is not delivered on time, it
hurts their sales and reduces the return on their advertising dollars.
The Postal Service must take such complaints seriously.
Second- and third-class mailers are the Postal Service's best
customers. They provide most of the operating revenue for the entire
system. And since the Post Office, by law, must operate on its own
income and not on tax money, it cannot afford to lose that business to
other advertising media.
Recent discoveries of tons of undelivered mail stashed in post
offices, trailers and closets hasn't helped the Postal Service's
reputation for dedication and efficiency. But Postmaster General
Marvin Runyon insists these were isolated incidents and that he's
taken action to see it doesn't happen again.
But the long-term challenges facing the Postal Service are
more formidable. There is growing competition from overnight delivery
services, fax machines, computer electronic mail, electronic fund
transfers and direct bank deposits. People have choices now, and if
they don't believe that dropping a letter in the nearest mailbox is
the best choice, they're going to take their business elsewhere.
The picture is not all gloomy. The Postal Service is investing
millions of dollars in automated mail-handling equipment and
restructuring the organization to improve management at all levels.
Besides, Americans are not likely to give up on the mail any
time soon. The lure of the Information Superhighway may be dazzling
for some people, but most of us will still be sending letters and
paying bills and buying merchandise by mail for years to come. And no
fax looks as good as a color catalog or brochure that arrives in the
Here are some tips to ensure that your letters get where
they're going on time.
- Check the address and zip code for accuracy. Automated
sorting machines can only read what's actually printed on the
- Those machines can't read handwriting, either. If it's
important, type the address or use a printed label or envelope.
- Use the correct postage. Postage due mail is always delayed
if it gets delivered at all.
- Check your bills. Make sure the address shows through the
envelope window. If the insert is put in backwards, your payment will
be delayed in handling.
- If you're on deadline, take your letter to your local post
office instead of dropping it in a collection box. Better yet, take it
directly to a regional processing center.
- Avoid dark-colored envelopes. There isn't enough contrast
between the print and the background color for machines to read the